Tony Davies wants his Northern Ireland-based Strangford Lough Brewing Co. to become the second most recognized Irish beer company in the world while generating jobs and tourism for the town where the beer is made, KillyLeagh in County Down.
“Everybody knows Guinness [Arthur Guinness Son & Co.], but now we want the world to know about Strangford Lough,” Mr. Davies told GlobalAtlanta about his company, which takes its name from the Strangford Lough, or lake that extends into Northern Ireland from the Irish Sea.
Mr. Davies, who is also the chairman of KillyLeagh’s economic development group, the KillyLeagh Social Partnership, was one of nine representatives who visited Atlanta with the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry earlier this month.
The group was welcomed here by the Ireland Chamber of Commerce USA-Atlanta and local law firm Paul, Hastings, Janofsky and Walker LLP in Atlanta.
Naming their company Strangford Lough, after the town’s closest body of water, is just one of several regionally-rooted marketing techniques that Mr. Davies and his partner, Robert Little, used when creating their company in February 2004.
In an interview with GlobalAtlanta during his Oct. 5-10 stay here, Mr. Davies explained that he and Mr. Little wanted to sell a high quality “real ale” beer that was brewed locally without chemicals. But they also wanted to contribute to the economic development of the area, which had been damaged since traditional industries, such as leather and linen production closed, he said.
“When we started the company, we were trying to generate employment, and we also wanted to attract tourists,” Mr. Davies said, noting that the company used the region’s history and culture to market its beer as a way to generate visitor interest in the area.
County Down is the burial place and home of the first church established by St. Patrick, who helped to bring Christianity to Ireland in the mid 400s. And, drawing from County Down’s history, three of Strangford Lough’s beers don the name St. Patrick. They are “St. Patrick’s Gold,” “St. Patrick’s Best” and “St. Patrick’s Ale.”
Two other Strangford Lough beers, “Barelegs Brew” and “Legbiter,” get their names from Viking King Magnus Barelegs, who invaded Ireland from Norway in 1103. Magnus Barelegs, named for his Gaelic, kilt-like dress, which revealed his legs, died during the invasion and is buried at Downpatrick Cathedral, just a few miles south of KillyLeagh.
Incorporating historical references in the beers’ names and adding historical accounts to the beers’ labels has helped Mr. Davies market the beer throughout Northern Ireland as well as to former Viking countries such as Denmark and Norway.
It has also led to the company’s co-sponsorship of an annual Viking Boat Festival held on Strangford Lough in May and organized by the KillyLeagh Social Partnership. This year, the three-day event attracted more than 2,000 visitors to KillyLeagh and received 26 teams from across Ireland, the United Kingdom and Norway. Mr. Davies hoped that the 2006 race would attract visitors from Atlanta.
“We would love to have a 10-man team from Atlanta come to join us,” Mr. Davies said. “You supply the team, and we’ll supply the boat.”
While Strangford Lough beers are not yet available in Georgia, they can be found in parts of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Mr. Davies said that he met with three importers during his visit to the U.S.
Mr. Davies worked as a management consultant in the U.S. and the U.K. before settling in KillyLeagh. He accompanied the Northern Ireland trade mission to Seattle before arriving in Atlanta.
Other Northern Ireland companies that participated in the trade mission included Base 2000 Ltd., a company that analyzes structure design for major equipment manufacturers; Drain Master, a sewer and drain repair and cleaning company; Foreman Consultants, a business consulting company; Glass Craft, a business specializing in glass decorating and etching; Jigsaw Tree Ltd., a Belfast-based holding company; Liddell Ltd., a woven table and bed linen supplier; Stedia.com, a company that develops formulas to identify stress in the workplace and Sycadex Ltd., a designer of psychological software.
For more information on the visiting companies, contact Kevin Conboy at (404) 815-2211 or James Gaffey at (770) 448-0685. For more information on Strangford Lough, visit www.slbc.ie or contact Mr. Davies at email@example.com or 44 (0)2844 821 461.